Time for a classic. Soft Red Velvet Cake with fluffy cream cheese frosting just how you like it.
Did you know that when you move to Georgia, you are welcomed with a Red Velvet Cake? Okay, that’s not true, but it should be. Nonetheless, after living in Georgia for several years, I’ve eaten my fair share of red velvet cake.
Before we get into this recipe, I have a confession to make. I don’t know why red velvet is so popular. I hear you grasping for your pitchforks, but first, hear me out!
I love me some red velvet, but I don’t get why I love it so much. It’s just chocolate cake that’s been dyed red, and as far as chocolate cakes go, it’s not especially decadent or even chocolatey. Despite all this, holy wow does it taste good.
There must be some sort of unobservable sorcery that happens when cocoa powder, red food coloring and buttermilk are mixed together and then heated in an oven.
If reading more about the phenomenon that is red velvet cake sounds like a good time to you (AKA you’re a pastry nerd), read this. Good time guaranteed.
Now, back to business.
I’ve made lots of red velvet cakes using a lot of different recipes, but there is one recipe that I always come back to: Buddy Valastro’s recipe from Baking with the Cake Boss. I don’t watch his show, but I have been to his bakeries.
The first time I went was with my mom in Hoboken. We took the subway from Manhattan to get there, and I felt like a city girl even though I had never lived in the city and was walking arm in arm with my mom. Carlo’s was small but packed. We got a little bit of everything, as my mom and I do on our foodie adventures. Then we walked down to the water, just a block away, and took in an incredible view of the New York skyline.
If my memory’s right, she had a lobster tail (a thin flaky pastry that’s filled with cream) and I had a red velvet cupcake. The food rivaled the view.
Since that glorious afternoon, I got his cookbook and have made his red velvet cake many, many times. I’ve made a few tweaks of my own over the years, but it’s his base. Why mess with perfection?
Another great thing about this recipe is that it makes two dozen cupcakes, a two layer 9″ cake, or a three layer 6″ cake depending on what you want. I love that kind of versatility within one recipe. This time, I made a three layer 6″ cake.
I’ve mention before that I don’t love decorating cakes with cream cheese frosting, the traditional match for red velvet. Too much cream cheese frosting tends to over power everything, so I like to use it sparingly.
In this case, I filled the cake normally, leveling my cakes and creating a layer of frosting that is about half as thick as my cake layers. I then frosted the outside of the cake with the remaining frosting, not caring that some red was still visible, a la a naked cake. Rather than leaving that bare, I crumbled up the cake scraps I had left over from leveling my layers and pressed the crumbles into the sides and sprinkled some on top.
It’s a move for the lazy cake decorator, which I’ll be honest, I am 90% of the time. What’s great though is everyone loved how the cake looked and tasted, so I am proudly standing by my laziness, and I hope you will too.
Soft Red Velvet Cake with fluffy cream cheese frosting just how you like it.
- 1 ¼ cup unsalted butter, plus more for coating pans
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 1 ½ tsp vanilla extract
- 3 cups cake flour, plus more for coating pans
- 1 ½ Tbs cocoa powder
- 1 ¼ tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 ¼ buttermilk
- 5 tsp red food coloring
- 1 ½ tsp white vinegar
- 2 eight ounce packages of cream cheese, softened
- ½ cup (one stick) unsalted butter, softened
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 ¼ cups powdered sugar, sifted
- Preheat oven to 350F. Coat three 6 inch cake pans* with room temperature butter. Sprinkle pans generously with flour. Shake until flour evenly coats pans. Tap out excess flour and set aside.
- Sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix together and set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Scrape down bowl.
- Add vanilla and eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Scrape bowl well.
- Add flour mixture to butter mixture in three additions, alternating with the buttermilk, food coloring and vinegar. Be sure to start and end with the flour. Mix well and scrape often.
- Evenly divide the batter between the pans and bake for about 30 minutes. The cake is done when a knife inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. Immediately flip cakes out of pans and allow to cool completely.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attached, cream together butter and cream cheese on low speed. Do not over mix or else your frosting will be too runny. Scrape well and mix until smooth.
- Add vanilla extract and powdered sugar. Beat on medium-low until smooth.
- Fill and decorate the cake layers with your newly made cream cheese frosting and enjoy!
NOTE: This recipe makes a three layer 6” cake, a two layer 9” cake or 24 cupcakes. Pick your own adventure.